Do Spartans Panic?

This past Saturday was my baby sister’s 30th birthday. It was also the Fort Knox Spartan Sprint Race. They only spent the last year promoting it, so it was obviously a pretty big deal. And of course, I signed up.

I also signed my kids up.

I asked Justin if it was something he would be interested in, and he told me he wasn’t “a Spartan kinda guy.” So, I didn’t sign him up–until we were out to lunch with my best friend and she asked him if he was going to do it and he replied, “well, I said I wanted to, but no one signed me up.” Well, I marched right home and signed that sucker up for the Elite category, which means competing against guys who spend their entire summer traveling around competing in these brutal races.

I also spent the last I don’t even know how many months, training.

Saturday morning, I was pumped. Ready to go. Psyched. I was so ready for bad-ass-dom. Justin ran that sucker in 1:06:25. Which put him 101st out of the 167 elite humans. And then, out of everyone who ran yesterday, that put him 223rd out of 4382. Which I think is SUPER badass. His response was, “GIRLS beat me,” and, “I should’ve run faster.” He did zero prepping for it, apart from the insane amount of time he spends in our garage gym weekly, but he refers to that as “training for life.”

The kids raced. And they loved it! And it was super cute to watch. I was getting super pumped.

But I should also add that it was 95+ degrees, with a real feel over 100 degrees. A lot of sweating was happening.

Trial by fire?!

By the time it was my turn, the kids were hot and tired, I was HOT, Justin was sweating so way much. We had been there over 4 hours, in the hot sun. And then, away I went. Jogging through the woods. And jumping over walls. Each wall got a little taller, and a little more effort had to go into jumping them. The final wall was a brutal 6 feet high. I was jumping and throwing myself at that wall on repeat. Nearly everyone else in my heat was on a team, and I watched them hoist and boost one another over the walls, while I ran and threw myself full force at them. My volleyball jumping skills came back to me, and I put every ounce of everything into my vertical leap. I was starting to get frustrated.

Next up–basically, a horizontal log about 5 feet into the air. Not only do you have to throw yourself at it, you have to keep your legs from swinging underneath it. Multiple attempts, quite a few fails, and the feeling of intense bruising on my ribcage. By the time I made it to the final wall, I was feeling intensely defeated. And then the volunteer watching that wall looked at me and said, “you got this girlie!”

Bring on the bruises.

Bring on the tears.

I have not had a full on panic attack since 2006, when a Transportation contractor told me there was NO way I’d get my passport in time, and I would NOT be able to move to Germany with Justin.

I jogged on. Compose yourself, Sam. He was just giving you words of encouragement.

But…everyone else is with a team, and they’re all helping each other, and I’m ALONE!!!

The men at the water station were also quite friendly, as I paused, tried to stop the overheating feeling that was not helping with the on-coming panic attack.

Finally, we had made it to the first obstacle that would require 30 burpees if it could not be completed. And, panic I did. I was hot. I was uncomfortable. I looked out into the crowd–if I could just see Justin, he could talk me down…but I had sent him and the kids back to the van to cool off, since I figured I would take at least twice as long as Justin did.

Twice as long?! I was ONE MILE IN! I had over THREE MILES LEFT!!! I looked back–Terry the Torturer was in the heat behind me. If I could just COMPOSE myself and wait patiently, he would most likely be able to talk me down. IS THERE NO ONE OUT THERE ABLE TO TALK ME DOWN?!?!

I stood off to the side for what seemed like an eternity, trying to keep myself from crying. It wasn’t working. I was crying. I was standing, looking out at the first REAL obstacle and I was crying.

There’s no crying in Spartan Races!

I found a gap in the fencing, wide enough to fit myself through. And I tapped out. And then spend the next 30 minutes wandering around, trying desperately to find Justin. While crying. And not wearing sunnies, so people could actually see me crying!

I was the little kid, lost in the mall, and I couldn’t find my family.


Finally, I decided to just take my crying face back out to the parking area. If they weren’t there, then I guess I would come back and have the Man with a Mic make an announcement.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this crying lady has lost her husband. And it’s obviously super serious.”

I wandered around, trying desperately to remember where we had parked. We were one of the first people here, so close to the front. WHY DOES EVERYONE DRIVE SILVER VEHICLES!?!? Finally, I glanced to my right and saw a sweaty man, standing near the back of a minivan. And I CRIED. So many tears happened. I walked up behind him, and as soon as he saw me he looked instantly concerned. “What happened!?”

“I tapped out like a bitch! I just started crying, and I couldn’t stop. And it’s so hot. And I couldn’t find you guys. And I looked ahead and every obstacle looked IMPOSSIBLE. And I’m still crying. And…”

“What do you want to do?”

“I just want to get in the car, and cry myself home.”

And that’s what I did. I cried. And then I laughed about how foolish it was. Did I seriously just have my first panic attack in over a decade?! All because of a foolish race?!

But seriously, why was it so dang hot!?

Could I have finished it? Physically–yes. But my head said no, and there was no talking me down. I could pretend that it was something else. I’m absolutely COVERED in bruises, which Justin has been teasing me about–“I FINISHED the race and I have two little bruises on your elbows! What the heck were you doing out there!? You didn’t even make it to the REAL obstacles!”


Next year, I’ll be trying this again. And next year, I’ll force someone to run it with me. Not Justin–even if he was around, I know he’d either tease me the entire way, or take off and leave me (only to run back after he’s finished, to say, “you’re all the way back here?!?!). And I’d spend the run saying, “just carry me!” Which he wouldn’t do. No–I’ll find some equally fit/unfit human, who will whine with me when it’s too hard, but who will keep me from reaching the point of no return.